The owner and two employees of a convenience store in Medford were charged early Thursday with selling — over-the-counter — a synthetic form of marijuana known as K2, according to officials.
The three, Osman Ak, 45, and Murat Ak, 35, both of Holbrook, and Mehmet Akpinar, 51, of Nesconset, were arraigned Thursday afternoon at the federal court in Central Islip, on charges of conspiracy and drug trafficking, officials said.
The drugs were colorfully packaged with figures such as Dopey from Snow White on the front, and under such names as “OMG,” “Hayze Peachy King,” and “Hayze Haiwiian Ultra,” according to court records. The records also said that while the store was under observation most of the customers for the drugs appeared to be 18 to 23 years of age.
In a statement, acting Eastern District U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said: The defendants put “the community at risk to the dangers associated with this synthetic hallucinogen and its unpredictable side effects.”
The Aks were held without bail; Akpinar was released on $100,000 bond, according to officials.
The defendants, who pleaded not guilty were accused of drug trafficking from 2013 through 2015; each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges, officials said.
Osman Ak, the owner of the business, also faces possible forfeiture of the store which is named Eyup Gas & Convenience Store and operates as VS Food Mart on Route 112, according to officials.
The charges were the result of a joint investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the State Police.
At a news conference at State Police Troop L in East Farmingdale, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called K2 “dangerous” and said the state is issuing orders to close the business.
K2 “is marketed to young people with names that make it cool and innocuous,” Cuomo said. “It’s sold in bodegas and gas stations and small grocery stores.”
He urged parents to be vigilant for any sign of drug use.
“If you see a hint, a trace of a problem, do something about it, because these drugs are so potent you don’t get a second chance,” Cuomo said.
In a news release, Cuomo said 1,000 packets of “synthetic marijuana and its chemical analogues” were seized in the case.
Analysis of the samples of the seized products determined that there were five synthetic cannabinoids as defined by law, according to the governor’s office.
According to Cuomo’s news release, synthetic marijuana “is marketed as legal and typically consists of plant material coated by chemicals, which are supposed to mimic THC, the active chemical compound in naturally grown marijuana. The drugs are marketed as incense, herbal mixtures, or potpourri in order to mask their true purpose.”
The substances are known by names such as Spice, Geeked Up, Ninja, Caution, and Scooby Snax, officials said.
Cuomo said he “will advance legislation to add 35 types of synthetics to the state controlled substances list, subjecting those who manufacture or sell these drugs to criminal drug penalties and equipping law enforcement with the tools they need to get to the source.”
The governor noted that the 35 substances “are already listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances.”
The legislation also authorizes the state health commissioner “to add to the state controlled substances schedule any new drugs that have been added to the federal schedule.”
With William Murphy